[from Jane Kenyon's From Room to Room, Alice James, 1978]
Grandmother, you are as pale
as Christ's hands on the wall above you.
When you close your eyes you are all
white -- hair, skin, gown. I blink
to find you again in the bed.
I remember once you told me
you weighted a hundred and twenty-three,
the day you married grandfather.
You had handsome legs. He watched you
working at the sink.
The soft ring is loose on your hand.
I hated coming here.
I know you can't understand me.
I'll try again,
like the young nurse with the needle.
We are living together on the earth.
The clock's heart
beats in its wooden chest.
The cats follow the sun through the house.
We lie down together at night.
Today, you work in your office,
and I in my study. Sometimes
we are busy and casual.
Sitting here, I can see
the path we have made on the rug.
The hermit gives up
after thirty years of hiding in the jungle.
The last door to the last room
comes unlatched. Here are the gestures
of my hands. Wear them in your hair.
From Room to Room: Poems